A Biblical Definition: What is a Spiritual Gift?

Criteria for Defining the term "Spiritual Gifts"

Any definition of the term spiritual gift, as well as any attempt to define the specific gifts, needs to line up with Scripture. Since the Bible does not actually define this term, MinTools.com uses the following means to arrive at definitions:

  • the whole counsel of the Word of God
    God will never contradict Himself. His precepts, His plan through the ages, and the precedence seen in scriptural examples all need to be taken into consideration. Definitions must concur with the whole of who God is and not just the parts we like.
  • principles that grow out of key passages on Body life in the church and spiritual gifts
    Key passages include Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Ephesians 4. Definitions must be consistent with God's Word and not just fit our experience.
  • words used in the original Greek language
    Often an examination of the original language of the Bible adds to our understanding. Definitions must be congruent with God's original intent and not be based on our own understanding.

A Definition of the Term "Spiritual Gifts" that Lines up with Bible Teaching

Although Scripture does not define what a spiritual gift is, there is enough Bible teaching on this subject to draw an adequate conclusion.

The following definition brings together some key truths from the Word of God:

A Spiritual Gift is a special divine empowerment bestowed on each believer by the Holy Spirit to accomplish a given ministry God's way according to His grace and discernment to be used within the context of the Body of Christ.
 

Break down the definition and reflect on each part of it:

A Spiritual Gift is . . .

a special divine empowerment (1 Cor. 12:4-6; 1 Pet. 4:11)
 
bestowed on each believer (1 Cor. 12:7, 18; 1 Pet. 4:10)
 
by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-9, 11)
 
to accomplish a given ministry God's way (1 Cor. 12:4-6)
 
according to His grace and discernment (Rom. 12:3-6; 1 Pet. 4:10)
 
to be used within the context of the Body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:7; Eph. 4:12; 1 Pet. 4:10)
 

When you operate within this definition, you will see the church grow as each member does his/her part according to the Holy Spirit's work following God's design and purpose. Ephesians 4:16 reads . . .

From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
 

For further insight: